Norton Bavant Snow Scene
Norton Bavant Snow Scene Norton Bavant Snow Scene Norton Bavant Snow Scene Norton Bavant Snow Scene Norton Bavant Snow Scene
Village History - The Dominican Priory of Dartford  

Although the king granted these Bavant lands to the Dominican nuns of Dartford he found that some of them, formerly Scudamore, were in the Marcher border country of Herefordshire and Wales.  They were shunted back and forth between Bavant and the king, the king to trustees, the king to the Dominican nuns of Dartford, the nuns to the king, innumerable times.  Finally the king had an inquisition on these lands finding that the overlord of Ewyas Castle, Sir Lewis Clifford (who had married Alianor the widow of the former overlord, Roger la warre) was taking the profits from the former Scudamore manors to the disheirison of the king, and that many bondsmen had flown to gain their freedom.

The Scudamores still retained part of Norton Bavant after it had passed to the Bavants and then to Dartford Priory.  (See Appendix II Translation of original charter.  Also Appendices III, IV, and V).

The Dartford nuns were in possession of Norton Bavant until the Dissolution of the religious houses in the reign of Henry VIII.  The nuns adopted free tenant farming of their lands and as early as c1400 the largest of the tenant farmers at Norton were a family named Benet, who were to become the future owners of the manor.  The name does not occur in earlier charters and deeds of the manor although a John Benet, mentioned in an inquest Post Mortem of the baron of Ewyas in 1300, might have been an ancestor.

When Norton passed to the crown at the Dissolution the manor farm was held by the Benet family, it having been let to them by the nuns in 1519.  In 1609 the whole manor (except certain leaseholds) were granted in fee to George Salter and John Williams.  In 1611 a number of tenants (16) joined together to buy the freehold of their holdings for £1,842 10s of which £1,069 was paid by William Benet, and he held the manorial rights with the manor farm.

The Benets continued to buy more land in the manor, continuing there until the 19th century, but from 1725 their chief seat was at Pythouse near Tisbury.  The heir in 1856 was Vere Fane son of the Rev Arthur Fane and his wife, formerly Lucy Benet.  Having assumed the surname Fane-Benett he also added the maiden name of his wife, Standford.  But the Fane-Bennett-Standfords now have no land interests in Norton Bavant.

Norton Bavant House was lived in in 1858 by two maiden sisters of John Benett M P Ethelred was a noted geologist, cataloguing fossils, and was given a doctorate of civil law by St Petersburg, although because of her name she was mistaken for a man.  The house was let for many years until bought by Sir Kenneth Nicholson.  Most of the Norton manor property north and east of the railway was sold to the War Office and is now part of the Defence Department’s battle training area of the Imber Ranges.

Two small Anglo-Saxon estates in Middleton became Norman manors, one held by the family of Giffard, lords of Brimsfield, Glos, and the other by the earls of Salisbury.  Finally they became part of the Norton Bavant manor estate.

Some of the mills on the Wylye dated from Saxon days, early on being corn mills but some becoming fulling mills with the development of the woollen cloth trade.  The right of turbary – the right to dig turf in Pitmead – was anciently connected with the manor.  In 1260 an unusual custom called “Nhuteselver” (nutsilver) was a tax due from the manor, not noted elsewhere in Wiltshire.

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